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Kelowna Art Gallery exhibit showcases students’ learning on Indigenous culture

The art represents what students learned about Indigenous culture
The Dreaming Forward exhibit showcases what students learned about Indigenous culture, history and art. (Central Okanagan School District)

Kelowna Art Gallery’s newest exhibit displays what students have learned about Indigenous culture.

The new Dreaming Forward exhibit displays art from Indigenous and non-Indigenous students and shows how they connected with Indigenous Nations.

The curriculum was built with the help of Westbank First Nation’s elders and cultural leaders. Ten lessons have taught over a thousand students from Kindergarten to Grade 9 about traditional art techniques and cultural connections, with the goal of fostering a positive appreciation of the diversity of Indigenous cultures in Canada.

Each lesson included an eBook with videos, detailed instructions, and cultural links. The lessons represent a variety of nations and their art throughout time.

“The Dreaming Forward exhibit shares the goals of the lessons with the broader community,” the Central Okanagan School District (SD 23) said in a statement.

“It is intended to represent student experience, a future of a public better educated on Indigenous visual culture, and the prospect of future Indigenous artists seeing their cultural heritage in their early education.”

SD 23 superintendent of schools Kevin Kaardal said art is one of the most powerful ways of communicating what someone has learned about history and culture.

“We are grateful for the elders, knowledge keepers, and educators who shared their wisdom and teachings to make this exceptional display of students’ creativity and learning possible,” he said.

Mount Boucherie Secondary School art teacher Jim Elwood said Indigenous culture was never shown as an active entity until now.

“Too often, Indigenous presence was trapped in museums or euro-centric textbooks, and cultural understanding as lost through overexposure or misinterpretation,” he said.

“These lessons offer a way to repatriate these understandings back to their nations.”

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Twila Amato
Video journalist, Black Press Okanagan
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Twila Amato

About the Author: Twila Amato

Twila was a radio reporter based in northern Vancouver Island. She won the Jack Webster Student Journalism Award while at BCIT and received a degree in ancient and modern Greek history from McGill University.
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